Boundless Asia Conference 2019

When and Where

Friday, March 22, 2019 1:00 pm to 7:00 pm
Alumni Hall
Old Victoria College
73 Queens Park Crescent East (91 Charles Street West), Victoria University in the University of Toronto, Toronto


This year the conference theme is ‘Boundless Asia’ which will examine Asia through a transnational framework, highlighting how transnational forces disrupt the imagined boundaries of Asia as a geographical and cultural place. Asia is often discussed as a static, limited entity; whether that be the Asian continent, Asian countries, Asian culture or Asian people. Limits are implied, boundaries are drawn and definitions are created. This conference aims to challenge and break the boundaries around and within Asia and highlight the boundless and fluid nature of nations, the continent, identities and culture. Through a discussion of topics such as diaspora, transnationalism, globalization and migration we hope to encourage people to reconsider where Asia is, who Asia is, why Asia is and how it came to be.

A discussion of transnationalism is not only relevant, but important, in today’s political climate in which many people and governments are trying to harden the boundaries between humans, cultures and countries. Through our conference we would like to show the links that exist between all of us and the forces which connect, rather than divide, us.


To discuss the disruption and fluidity of boundaries, we must first acknowledge their present or past existence. In our first subtopic (RE)BUILDING ASIA, the panelists will discuss the forces that pioneered the development and definition of the categories that have come to inform the ways in which we think about, and understand, Asia today. The collective imaginaries of such terms as “Asia”, “Asian” and “Third World” will be analyzed through a historical lens, highlighting the dynamic nature of these categories and challenging our understanding of them as static bounded categories. Some questions which will be engaged with are; how can be expand “Asia” beyond a geographically-bound definition? How can we unbind the term from dominant structures and imposed labels that have given rise to the particular idea of what, and who, Asia is?


Our second subtopic EXPERIENCING ASIA, unravels the processes by which physical boundaries are translated into social identities. Our speakers will discuss how labels such as “Asian”, “South Asian” and “Argenchino” are actually experienced by the populations onto which have been imposed, thereby comparing the normative demand of a label with lived experience. This panel will also discuss the presence of diasporic ‘Asian’ communities in Canada, United States and Latin America. The historical reasons for migration flows will provide insights into the contemporary differences between and among these groups, and raise the question of whether they can be categorized as one entity. Panelists will also discuss how globalization further complicates the neat categories of national and social identities and how their definitions vary across the host countries of different diasporic communities. The panelists will pose a number of important questions, such as: What constitutes a group identity? What are the necessary attributes for inclusion?

Registration is required and opens on February 1, 2019.

We would like to thank our sponsors for their generous support:
Dean's Initiative Fund
Asian Institute
Contemporary Asian Studies Department
Centre for the Study of Global Japan
Peace, Conflict and Justice
Global Taiwan Studies
Jackman Humanities Institute
New College
Innis College
St. Michael's College
Trinity College


73 Queens Park Crescent East (91 Charles Street West), Victoria University in the University of Toronto, Toronto